John Colson: A quick dip into this week’s news

John Colson
Hit & Run

I find myself reading a lot these days, from online content to old-fashioned newspapers to a relatively intensive array of magazines brought to me by our friendly neighborhood postman, and sometimes the stuff I learn is overpowering, hard to contain in my aging brain.

So every now and then I like to perform a type of newsy waltz with some informational tidbits.

It’s my version of the old slogan, “All The News That Fits,” which is used by so many oddball news outlets I decided not to bother listing them. It also, by the way, is an ironic perversion of the slogan adopted by the Old Gray Lady of news herself, The New York Times.

Anyway, on to the bits that caught my eye in the past week.

Geraldo Rivera

To the dismay of some, this guy has become a right-wing apologist, a deplorable, a supporter of the darkest, foulest impulses of our body politick — a far cry from his salad days as a town crier with left-leaning sensibilities back in the 1970s.

Born to a working-class Brooklyn couple (mom was a restaurant worker, dad a cab driver), Rivera is an attorney who once worked with Puerto Rican activist organizations, including the Young Lords, a branch of which once operated out of a half-burned church near where I lived in Chicago in the early 1970s.

He took a hard right turn somewhere in his career, though, and these days he’s a commentator on Fox News, and apparently he has drank his fill of the company’s propagandistic Kool-Aid.

He recently told the network’s top remaining prevaricator, Sean Hannity, that it’s too bad Hannity wasn’t around in the early 1970s; he might have been able to save Nixon from being forced to choose between impeachment or resignation over the Watergate affair.

According to several news outlets, Rivera declared to Hannity, “I believe that our prime responsibility now is to unshackle the 45th president of the United States.”

In case you’ve been living in an ice cave at the North Pole for the past two years, he was referring to Donald Trump, a president who is as completely unshackled (I prefer the term “untethered from reality”) as any we have ever had.

It seems Rivera believes Trump is being persecuted by federal investigators over the question of links between his campaign and a shadowy group of Russian enablers and hackers who worked like beavers to fix the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

Of course, thanks to news stories published in the last week, we can now say with some certainty that the Russians weren’t the only ones hoping to help The Donald seal the deal and become president — it now appears there were operatives from several Arab nations who had the same idea.

But Rivera, who was badgered into a corner by commentator/comedian Bill Maher last weekend over his fawning over all things Trumpian, has reserved a special place in political hell for himself, in my opinion. He has done so by shamelessly and greedily hitching his star to a man who obviously wants to dismantle the American experiment in democracy and put himself on a newly fashioned American throne.

Do You Juul?

An article in the May 14 New Yorker magazine caught my attention, after writer Jia Tolentino dug deep into America’s newest addiction craze, the Juul, which is the preeminent latter-day entry into the e-cigarette industry.

As Tolentino describes it, the Juul likely is the most effective nicotine-addiction stick yet devised by human inventors, far cleaner (insert “non-carcinogenic”) than the old cigarettes made from tobacco, tar and a witches brew of toxic chemicals.

And it’s trendy, cool, attractive to the young even more than it is to the older, cigarette-weary generation who grew up on the Marlboro Man and other iconic drug-dealing images.

And, fittingly enough, the Juul and other e-cigarettes (smokeless, slicker and quicker than tobacco) are being dealt by some of the same old names from the nasty cigarette days — R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Imperial Tobacco are names that come up often.

So, just as it appears that the ready-made cigarette market is in its final death spiral (in every sense of the phrase), these poor, benighted corporations have latched onto a profitable substitute that appears destined to outshine tobacco even in its glory days of the early- to mid-1900s.

High schools, middle schools, colleges are all seeing a massive surge of Juul use on their campuses, a surge that some say outpaces anything ever achieved by tobacco because one can suck on a Juul with little fear of detection.

Legislators, educators and others, of course, are freaking out and running around like headless chickens seeking ways to control this latest threat to the health and well-being of our youth.

So far, while little has been accomplished toward that end, we can be assured that the fight has only just begun.

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